Scientists use laser beams to arrange artificial cells like Lego bricks

UK researchers have used “mini tractor beams” to make a breakthrough in the formation of cell architecture


Researchers from Imperial College London and Loughborough University have undertaken research that paves the way for the creation of networks of artificial cells that act like tissues.

The scientists used lasers to connect, arrange and merge the cells. The cell membranes were altered in order to stick the cells together like Lego bricks.

The research team also worked out how to create a tether between two cells using a tendril of membrane material.

After perfecting these techniques, researchers were able to create lines of cells, 2D shapes like squares and 3D shapes like pyramids. They could then rearrange these forms using a laser beam.

Professor Oscar Ces, from the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, said the development would provide useful technology for the assembly of biological systems.

“We can now start to scale up basic cell technologies into larger tissue-scale networks, with precise control over the kind of architecture we create,” he observed.

The research was published in Nature Communications.